Speaker 1:  [Music]

Adam: Welcome back to the Skill Up Buildup podcast. We have a very unique episode for you today. Kofi and I just came back from Mazatlan, Mexico.

Kofi: That's right.

Adam: So where we were out last weekend. How great was that?

Kofi: It was phenomenal. Whether ideal, uh, the work we we're doing,

Adam: Ideal? I'd say maybe perfect...

Kofi: I mean it's kind of hard, but it would be in the 99% percentile for me too.

Adam: I got up Monday and it was 61 degrees out there.

Kofi: The ocean just lapping waves right against, practically your back door. It's a very nice time and we're doing great work for a great mission.

Adam: We are, we are. That's a, that's a great transition there Kofi. Our company, the Morales Group, we don't talk a lot about the Morales Group on this show. It gets mentioned from time to time, but we're very fortunate enough to take a yearly trip down to Mazatlan. And most people say oh yeah, you go down there and just drink and have fun for a week. Yes, that happens for sure. But there is a mission we're going down for.

Kofi: By default.

Adam: By default. Yeah. But uh, there, there is a, um, there, there is a mission we go down there for and for the last four years, uh, we've been able to go down. We've been, we've been lucky enough to go down and build homes for some families down there. We built two homes at trip, four homes a year, so the company still has to run, so we split up the company into two groups and we go down our mission here at the Morales Group is to build better futures, one story at a time. And uh, Tom Morales, our owner had a, had a great vision and said, hey, let's, let's, let's live out our mission, right? What does that look like? So a company splits up into two groups and we head down to Mazatlan, we build two homes, still have some fun in the sun. And we're down there for about a week. So Kofi and I just got back.

Kofi: Yeah.

Adam: We wanted to share our experience with you guys a little bit today.

Kofi: It's kind of miraculous. Uh, Adam, I like you more now. Even after that trip.

Adam: I like you less. That's interesting that it happened that way.

Kofi: I really am sad that you're,...

Adam: This shirt looks like it's from Mazatlan too by the way.

Kofi: It is, and part of a great story that we lived out together. Uh, you were part of helping me seal the deal to get this fine gear. So, uh, we'll see if we have any stories on this podcast that come from our adventures in Mazatlan.

Adam:              I'll tell you that, that shirt showed me how bad of a negotiator you were.

Kofi:                 Sometimes, with some things in a foreign language for give me,

Adam:              Well, not only that, but the fact that you negotiated down to the price that you wanted and then realize you had no money with you and I had to bail you out.

Kofi:                 Well, you're right. That is a poor negotiation strategy. If you actually succeed in getting the price you want and not actually have the money to pay for it, there's a huge hole there.

Adam:              That doesn't work.

Kofi:                 I can see.

Adam:              All right. So Kofi, why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about why we go down to Mexico.

Kofi:                 Um, one thing that I think is really awesome about the Morales group and how they're intentional with what's happening with internal staff is that this is uh, an explicit way to engage your staff and make sure something that is spoken about through the mission is followed up with some type of action to really affirm it. So, um, we're allowed to go on this trip, this amazing trip if we complete 25 service hours, that could be volunteering for a variety of organizations or just completing some type of service that can be validated and put into your passport. Each staff member has a passport where you get these stamps that upon completion as you complete your stamp, your passport, you get to go onto this mission trip along with the 25 volunteer hours, I believe it's 10 or 15 professional development hours where you're pouring into yourself, making sure you grow as an individual. And, and so often organizations are very passive about how this happens. And if people aren't taking the initiative to get those resources and do this for themselves, it rarely gets done. So these two things complete our passport and everyone who's on this trip has completed that. So there's a good amount of investment you're putting in yourself. But the reason why we go is that we get to then pour all of that devotion and want to help bring positive change to the world into these, uh, under resourced communities in Mazatlan that are there because, well we get to work with them because YWAM as a mission has chosen Mazatlan as a place to do their missionary work.

Adam:              Um, yeah Kofi. So, so good stuff there. You know, one thing I want to share before we dive into some of our takeaways, which I know is what we want to talk about today. Um, we partner with a great organization, YWAM, which is an acronym for Youth With A Mission. And um, they got a base down in Mazatlan there, they're all over the country.

Kofi:                 All over the world,

Adam:              All over the world. Thank you. I actually meant to say world, um, but I don't know all the stats of how many homes they've built, how many bases they have. I mean, we can probably get those numbers. Maybe Luisa can put those... do you know these?

Kofi:                 I think they've been in Mazatlan for 15 years...

Adam:              Been in Mazatlan for 15... do you know what some of the stats...?

Kofi:                 I don't know in terms of how many houses are built, but it's well over 200.

Adam:              Yeah. So, so YWAM is a group of youth really that, um, that live in Mazatlan in this particular sense. And a, one of their missions is the homes of hope and they go into what they call the colonial, which is, I mean, I guess for lack of a better term, the, the, the, the poorest of areas in Mazatlan. Is that how you'd describe it?

Kofi:                 You know, I kind of see them as a pockets or neighborhoods theat could be considered as suburbs. Usually you think of a suburb doing well, whereas the Colonias, uh, there's, there's a lot of poverty. There's a lot of need.

Adam:              Yeah. Everything's dirt road. I'm just kind of giving you guys who maybe don't know what we're talking about. Everything- think of everything's dirt road. Uh, some people have a brick structure for a home. Um, and some families literally have nothing. It's just dirt. Um, maybe whatever they have found in the, in the past weeks or years that they've constructed together to, to create some sort of shelter for themselves against the elements.

Kofi:                 And it's always a powerful experience. As Adam has referenced, he's been four times. He just completed his fourth trip. I just finished my second. It's always a powerful experience to realize that we're, we're going to pretty much build a home from scratch. Yes, the foundation has been poured. The studs are there, but we're about to build something in two days and you see the conditions that the block is in that this house is going into. So it stands to be something extremely significant for that family. It's also a light for that community. And, and oftentimes when you're seeing low resource communities, you're wondering what can you do, What can you do? This is a really meaningful way to do something that, you know, is not saving the world, but it's changing the trajectory for a family, which is phenomenal.

Adam:              Yeah, that's well said. I think the other piece too is how does a family, how did the families get selected, right? Cause you go into this Colonia, and it's, there's, there's a ton of families, right? There's a ton of poverty. And so YWAM actually selects the family. Um, they have, they have a lady who, who works with families in the Colonia, and um, they have to, they have to show, the family has to show that they either own the land or they are making faithful payments to the government, to the Mexican government, uh, to own land, which will be coming up soon. And when that happens, um, they then go through an application process, which, I won't get into all the details of that with YWAM, and then YWAM selects the family. Um, and then we get that information and we go down and we will build for the family and then meet the community and everything. So that's a little background on, on how it works. Um, if, if you want more information, please reach out. We can help connect you guys. Uh, to YWAM, um, whether in Mazatlan, I know there's another YWAM in Ensenada Mexico. I've, I've personally been to that one. I've done a build there, and they're all over the place. But, uh, just, just a unique experience. Um, as we dive in, I'm interested in what your takeaways were from the week. Um...

Kofi:                 Yeah...

Adam:              Being your second and my fourth, I think, you know, I think they always vary from your first to your second and because you just have a different perspective. And even for me being on my fourth, it was, it was different as well. So

Kofi:                 This second trip was very enriching in that I knew what to expect for the most part and could gear myself up to have maximum performance. But there's also a lot of insight, lot of things that I didn't expect and I saw- but main takeaway that I can share right now cause it's kind of hard to boil them down to three, but I will accept the challenge. Main takeaway is that when you're there in the Colonia and uh, you're building the house, I really love how I can be a part of that build, but then also kind of slipped into just walking through the neighborhood and through the various roads there and getting a feel for what's going on in that Colonia. I think it's, it's a, it's a gift. Each time I'm in a different country, I get to learn more about that country's culture, their history, their land, I'm big into nature. I like being outside and with the weather being so beautiful while we were there, it wasn't that difficult to steal some time away from my team and take a walk every once in a while.

Adam:              Real quick, let me pause you, I want to paint the picture that it is safe.

Kofi:                 It is.

Adam:              To walk around during the day, now at night, you know, there's parts in here, parts in Indianapolis where I'm not going to walk by myself or in any city, right, for that matter. But here during the day you can take a walk by yourself.

Kofi:                 I've lived in a lot of cities and you always gauge for, you know, A are there, uh, questionable characters around, I need to at least keep my head on a swivel for a little bit and just gauge the situation and never got that sense at all. Um, and so to just be able to plug myself in the environment and do a better job of, I feel like trying to listen to people in that neighborhood, my Spanish, speaking is, is very, very little. But I can comprehend more than I can say. So there are the gist of things that I could get and I just feel like it's, it's awesome. My main takeaway is just how I was able to plug myself in and be a part of the build. Also get the feel for Montalayo, and at least that part of that community. And that's it. What about you Adam?

Adam:              Yeah, my takeaways I had, I had three of them. One was, you know, what's interesting is when you go down there, I mean we were down there with our owner, with our president, with the executive team members, other leaders in our company, every, everybody goes and when you get on the build site there are no titles anymore. Like we were, were, were very adamant that all titles are stripped away and we are one team building this home and giving back to this family. So I always love that aspect of it because you really start to see different people rise up, different people take lead. Um, and you see different actions and different personalities from people maybe you don't see on a day in and day out basis, which is, which is really cool. Um, which kind of leads me to my second takeaway. I love connecting with people on that trip that I don't normally get to connect with on a weekly basis. Um, and I can think of like two or three off the top of my head that I was able to like learn more about that I would never, I shouldn't say, never had that opportunity to here, I could, but in the course of the daily work and not...

Kofi:                 It's not organic. Yeah. And you know, you come to work, do your thing, you've got to go home and get the famly, itewhole deal when you're there. I mean, there wasn't one moment with one of our team members when we're, we were coming back from the, from dinner or something, and he made the comment on our, on our van that he wanted, he wanted a doughnut or, I don't know. Yeah. I can go, you know, me coffee, I'm never, I'm never going to pass up a doughnut or a pastry, get outta here. He's pretending like he eats donuts all the time, but he does sometimes.

Adam:              Um, so, so I told, I said, well, there's a little coffee shop that I think they has some cinnamon rolls. Let's go down there and we end up sitting on, on the boardwalk. And just kinda hung out, found out he's, he's, he's writing a book, he's wanting to write a book. Talk to me about his daughter a little bit. I had no idea that we work in the same office. We work in the same office. So, so that's, that's, that's really nice. I was enjoy connecting with some of my other teammates. Um, and then, you know, the other thing be my fourth trip, I uh, and I shared this in our debrief foods, have a debrief section session at the end. You have to be careful not to become numb to everything. I mean, I, this happened to me this year. I went down and you know, we started the build and it was just, it's just kind of clockwork.

Kofi:                 Look, I just kind of knew what to do. We kind of knew where to go. We knew what to get and everything. It becomes almost like a race, which is fun and we should, but, but you, you become numb to your surroundings. And we talked about how bad earlier, how bad the Queanbeyan was. You walk around and that's, I love that, that you did that because I didn't and I became numb. You forget, you just kind of look at, okay, we got to go home, go back to the hotel. You almost forget why you're there. At one point during the build we were probably a couple of hours in and I came off the site to go get a drink of water. And there's the, there was our family that we're building for their sitting there. Oh, oh, that's them. Whoops, that's not good, you know. So just, just that reminder to, to understand, you know, why we're down there and what we're trying to do.

Kofi:                 I applaud you for being brave and sharing that one. And, and I, I like it because I think it makes this conversation in this focus more pressing through your response. My second and third things did come to mind at least how I would value some takeaways. And the second one being, you know, if if we were allowed more time or it could finish the build and spend some time with the families that were building houses for uh, eventually go back to other houses that we've built for and have some type of fellowship where we get to a better conversation about what's going on in their life. What are they trying to pursue, vice versa, what's going on in our life, what are we trying to pursue? And then come at it as peers in terms of, hey, here's my advice to you. And Hey, they get to share with them, share with us. I think that would keep it tangible and meaningful and more so then we're just making some type of impact that their life,because it's easy just to write a check. Yeah. Just keep throwing money at it. Right. That's not, might not, and in another part of the takeaways is like our team is so ready to do and we get so excited and amped up from this opportunity that now we're looking in instead of just having two houses built, how can we build three houses? How can we bring like rain barrel solutions or other ways to help them collect water that could be used throughout their daily life. Other things that would hopefully improve their quality of life in regards to their house. And they're like physical structures that are helping them live their life. And then, um, I really, really am struck with, again, being right on the ocean, the landscape, the mountains, the beauty of the land. And then the awesome culture. We, I bought some art in Mexico. I saw a lot of artsy things. I mean, Mazatlan had a lot of art, art history, and then cultural history, that was just really fun to take in. So I'm, I'm, I'm left with them. Like, wow, that was huge. I got to come back. I gotta bring my family.

Adam:              I would say when you go back and make sure you have money with you, oh, okay. And, and, and, and I think [inaudible] power like that, that would be really, really bad. Bad parenting, bad adulting. So I think we mentioned this before. We started with Kofi Kofi, when we went on a shopping spree. I'm going out with coffee to the market. Kofi negotiated for Kofi negotiated sir shirts. Got it down to the price, didn't have enough money a yours truly Adam had to go ahead and fork up 600 pesos to help Kofi get his shirts cause he thought he was just going to pay by credit card and then very various assumptive there. And then he went ahead and bought a mask. Uh, which was really nice by the way. I really didn't enjoy the mask. Um, but it wasn't positive how he was gonna get it back or how he was going to pay for it.

Kofi:                 Yeah. Still again, another credit card situation where the credit card was not eligible for a payment. So Hey, we worked it out. I mean the shirt was part of that and if you want to see the shirt, check us out on Instagram. You can seek OFI shirt today. It is nice. It is nice. I'm glad that you like it too. I really appreciate having it. But we, you know, we would cue Mexico. Thank you Mexico. Yet we just wanted to share, share our experience with you guys. You know, I think a lot of companies will do company trips and that's awesome. And I encourage you to keep doing them because it does build camaraderie. But um, you know, these trips for us at Ross group or are very special, uh, because of the way you are able to connect to a different culture. One, two, you can connect the, the, the what it does for your team internally.

Kofi:                 It really does open up some doors. There are three or four people on this trip that I was kind of on the fence about. I was like, eh, but after this trip, I'm like, they're all right. That is up there, right? It was I one of those people I cannot tell you, I will not answer that question on air. So if you're thinking about doing something like this, um, I w w w I think cofina would both highly suggest looking into some sort of mission build with your team. Um, it does, it does wonders. It creates, it creates this dynamic in your culture that's just so different than anything you can do through any other type of reward program or what you're doing. Um, we enjoy it. We look forward to it every year. And this is, this is why we do what we do. Yeah.

Kofi:                 It helps teams learn how to take, uh, take their drive and how they work together to the next level. Uh, you learn how to work harder together and how to not get on each other's nerves while doing it. I mean, you're going to get on them a little bit, but you, you figured out ways and that's what's really amazing about trips like this. You're like, okay, this does apply back in our work world. How can we engage as a team like this? Because what we just did was pretty awesome.

Adam:              I think we're going to put some pictures up so you just can get a feel Kofi Annan or aren't great. Uh, describers maybe of the, of the train are or what we were doing.

Kofi:                 Speak for yourself, man. Come on. I'm not letting you drag me under your little. Oh, I'm not so good at this part. Go ahead.

Adam:              Um, Luis, are you going? Can you get pictures up for us? She's shaking her head. Yes. She, she's our silent. We have some in the background. So, um, so one to thank you for listening to this episode. If you do have questions, go ahead and, uh, send a note into the info box. We'll be more than happy to respond. Um, and until next time, looking forward to, uh, talking to you guys some more. Download our podcast, wherever you subscribe to podcasts, apple, android, anywhere. Check out our website. What are we going to do? Podcasts. There it is. There it is, guys. Thank you very much. And, uh, we'll talk to you next time.